In Nevada, dog owners can be held liable if their pet attacks someone. If you or your child got attacked by a dog and sustained injuries, you have a right to seek compensation from its owner. However, recovering damages depends on your ability to prove negligence.
Like in any other personal injury case, this requires providing evidence to satisfy the four elements of negligence: duty, breach, causation, and damages. We explain how you can prove negligence in a dog bite claim so that you can claim the compensation you deserve following a dog bite injury.
Proving the Elements of Negligence in a Dog Bite Case
In most personal injury claims, it’s easy to determine another person to be an at-fault party. In car accidents, it’s often another motorist. In slip and fall cases, it’s often a property owner. But you can’t take a dog to court. In dog bite cases, you must prove the dog’s owner was at fault by establishing the elements of negligence, which are:
- Duty of care – The dog owner must have owed you a duty of care. If the dog was in a public place or at the owner’s private property and you were legally on the property during the attack, they should have restrained the animal.
- Breach of duty – You must also argue with evidence that the owner breached their duty of care by failing to restrain the dog to prevent the attack.
- Causation – Again, you must show that their negligence was the cause of your injuries. For instance, if the dog attacked you and you slipped and fell while running away from the animal, resulting in back injuries, you should recover damages for the additional injuries. However, you must provide evidence that links the injuries to the attack.
- Damages – Getting attacked by a dog is not enough to claim compensation from the owner. You must have sustained substantial injuries from the attack, leading to provable damages. In this case, you should produce evidence for the costs and losses you have incurred following the injuries.
In most cases, a claim for compensation for a dog bite is against the dog owner’s insurer, unless they do not carry any insurance. Insurance companies are powerful corporations that primarily exist to cover their clients against claims of damages resulting from accidents.
Filing a claim means you will be negotiating with adjusters who are experienced negotiators. They are paid to minimize the settlements as much as possible to shield the company from adverse losses.
For this reason, you require an equally experienced negotiator. Having an attorney on your side will protect your interests based on applicable legal provisions by negotiating for a fair settlement.
Understanding Nevada’s One Bite Rule
Some states have strict liability rules whereby you do not have to prove negligence. As long as you were not breaking the law or trespassing when the dog bit you, the owner is responsible for the injuries even if they did not act negligently.
For example, if the dog was restrained either in an enclosure or on a leash but then escaped and attacked you, the owner would not be considered negligent. But in a strict liability state, they would still be liable though they did not breach their duty of care.
Nevada is not a strict liability state. Instead, it adheres to the one bite rule, which has fewer consequences for the first bite. However, a dog owner may still be responsible for a first bite if you demonstrate negligence, as explained above.
Ways to Prove Negligence in a Dog Bite Claim
As earlier mentioned, proving negligence requires providing evidence to demonstrate the dog owner’s liability. Once the dog attacks you, it is crucial to take certain measures to protect yourself and preserve evidence to ensure you have a strong case when filing the claim.
Below are essential steps that can help you prove negligence with much ease.
Report the Attack
After an attack that results in serious injuries, you should call 911 and report. If the dog is running loose, reporting helps protect other people, as the operator can dispatch the animal control team to get the dog. The animal control department should also investigate the dog’s health status by contacting the owner for information on issues such as rabies vaccination.
You should also notify the police, as their report can come in handy as evidence later during the claim or lawsuit process.
Seek Medical Help
Seeking medical attention immediately is also vital. Once you commence treatment, ensure you document all the records, including doctor’s reports, prescriptions, medical procedures (surgery, X-ray, etc.), bills, and any relevant costs.
Also, you should journal your pains and symptoms and always share the information with the doctor for continued monitoring and follow-up treatment.
Collect the Dog’s Owner’s Information
In addition, you should ask the dog owner for their personal and insurance information. This includes their name, contact, address, and insurer details.
Evidence of your injuries or the attack is also powerful in proving the dog owner’s liability. Ensure you take photos of your injuries and the area where the attack took place. If your clothes got soiled or torn, preserve them by sealing them in a box without cleaning or altering them.
If the attack was caught on surveillance cameras, ensure you request footage preservation.
Get Eyewitness Testimony
If people witnessed the attack, request their contact information and arrange to get their testimony as soon as possible. You or your lawyer can meet them and record their statement while the events are still fresh in their mind.
In some cases, neighbors who may not have necessarily witnessed the attack can also provide testimonies. If they have seen the dog’s aggressiveness before, their testimony could prove handy.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer
While it’s possible to prove negligence on your own, personal injury cases are complex in nature. Whenever someone gets injured due to the negligent acts of another person, different laws spring into effect. Consulting a personal injury lawyer immediately helps you protect your rights from exploitative insurance companies and gives you access to their knowledge of the applicable laws.
Moreover, a lawyer should help you build a strong case while cautioning you against don’ts that might compromise the case. For instance, you should not admit liability whatsoever. Saying things like, “I must have startled the dog,” or “I shouldn’t have gone too close to the animal” could amount to an admission of liability.
An insurance adjuster can use such confessions to deny the claim or reduce the settlement. Hence, having a personal injury attorney by your side is always beneficial.
Investigate the Dog for Previous Attacks
If the dog has attacked someone before, you can prove the owner’s negligence by producing reports of the previous attack. Since the owner was aware of their animal’s aggressiveness, they should have kept it restrained to avoid a repeated attack.
You can find the information by talking to the neighbors or requesting records from the animal control department.
We Can Help You Prove Negligence in Your Dog Bite Claim
The fact that Nevada is not a strict liability state makes dog bite claims pretty challenging, especially in cases of the first bite. You must prove the dog owner’s negligence to recover your damages.
At Pacific West Injury Law, we can help you build a strong case by gathering the necessary evidence to support your claim. If you have sustained dog bite injuries in Nevada, contact our team of personal injury lawyers today for a free case evaluation.